"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
- Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
As probably the most famous writer in history, Shakespeare knew his stuff. But for once I'm going to have to disagree with him, at least in part: names are crucially important, at least when you're an author choosing names for the characters in your work.
When you're writing fiction, names usually have to fit the characters. Contemporary protagonists in an ordinary world might be Joe, Ian or Kate. But call someone Reginald, Percival or Eustace and readers will immediately think they're either fussy, fusty or just plain old-fashioned. Even worse, a wrongly-picked name may throw them out of the story altogether.
I'm currently at the naming stage while doing early ruminations for my next novel. The challenge when choosing names for historical characters is picking something that's easy to grasp (not to mention pronounce) for the average, modern-day reader. That can be slightly tricky when you're writing in an era like the Anglo-Saxon one, where typical names included Aedelbeorht and Eadburga...